NEWS Headlines from East Glamorgan

January 6, 2017 at 9:41 pm Leave a comment

During the winter of 2015-16 the BTO ran a ‘Non-Estuarine Waterbird Survey’ (NEWS) around the coastline of the UK. The purpose of this survey was to monitor important populations of several species which occur around our shores away from estuaries which are not monitored annually via the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS): species such as Oystercatcher, Purple Sandpipers and Turnstone. All the data are now in and the plan is to make them available via the WeBS Online Report next spring but, in the meantime, here are some top line NEWS headlines from the BTO East Glamorgan region.

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Purple Sandpiper, Ogmore-by-Sea (Photo: Jeff Slocombe)

For full details about the survey please have a look at this NEWS page. But in a nutshell, in our region, the coast between Penarth Head in the east and Kenfig Burrows in the west was split into 58 different sectors up to 2 km in length. 20 of these were designated ‘priority sectors’ which we were asked to make a special effort to cover. Volunteers were required to conduct a single count of waterbirds along each sector, recording waders as a priority, but they were encouraged to record other species such as wildfowl, seabirds, raptors, non-waterbirds and, if encountered, mammals too.

Across the UK, 1,890 priority sectors (75% of all priority sectors) and a further 1,735 non-priority sectors were covered, which equates to over 4,400 volunteer hours in the field. Thanks to the efforts of 21 brilliant volunteers, 57 of our 58 sectors in East Glamorgan, and 100% of our ‘priority sectors’, were covered for the survey. We can be forgiven for not achieving maximum coverage: the one sector we couldn’t cover was Flat Holm Island in the middle of the Severn Estuary, which proved inaccessible in the winter months! One volunteer alone covered an incredible 10 sectors.

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Turnstone, Ogmore-by-Sea (Photo: Jeff Slocombe)

Our volunteers counted a total of 3,937 individual birds of 50 different species during their coastal walks along the East Glamorgan coast. Excluding counts of some of the species more associated with inland areas, here are the totals for our region:

Species Total Species Total
Herring Gull 1420 Cormorant 20
Black-headed gull 760 Shelduck 17
Oystercatcher 357 Dunlin 13
Carrion Crow 236 Sanderling 13
Lesser B-b Gull 179 Grey Plover 11
Fulmar 145 Redshank 10
Golden Plover 120 Peregrine 8
Common Gull 111 Little Egret 4
Turnstone 99 Med Gull 2
Ringed Plover 46 Purple Sandpiper 2
Wigeon 45 Chough 1
Great B-b Gull 38 Guillemot 1
Curlew 35 Snipe 1
Rock Pipit 30 Whimbrel 1
Brent Goose 28

 

These totals are made up of counts conducted on several different dates between 01 December, 2015 and 28 February, 2016. No great surprises that Herring Gull is at No.1 but, although more closely associated with inland areas, I have included the count for Carrion Crow in the table because several volunteers commented that this was the most common species seen in their sectors.  There must have been rich pickings for them along the tideline.

The BTO also ran a Winter Shorebird Count in 1985 and NEWS counts in 1997/98 and 2006/07. It’ll be interesting to see how the 2015/16 counts compare. Look out for another update here once the UK results become available via the WeBS Online Report next spring.

Our thanks again to all 21 volunteers who took part in the survey.

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